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Neal Curtis

problematic nature of such sovereignty but I will also argue they offer us ways to move beyond it and radically rethink who and what is our kin. Although the list of superheroes and their totems would be very long, with Iron Man representing our dependency on technology, Aquaman our dependency on water and the oceans, or the Flash representing our dependency on time, there are two superheroes that explicitly deal with the theme of connectedness and dependency that totemism assumes. These two heroes are Animal Man and Swamp Thing. In the first issue of Grant Morrison’s run

in Sovereignty and superheroes
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Neal Curtis

and shape the ‘real world’ in which readers live. While superhero stories clearly reflect the time and culture of their production they also make a direct contribution to that culture. Stories about Superman and Spider-Woman, Swamp Thing and She-Hulk are constitutive of the world in which we live and breathe. To this effect, I hope that executives, editors, writers and artists remember that stories and the world operate in a permanent feedback loop, and that what appears in the pages of superhero comics regularly validates and therefore continues practices that take

in Sovereignty and superheroes
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Neal Curtis

Moore and Rick Veitch (1987) in Swamp Thing volume 2 #61 when Swamp Thing accidentally incorporates the population of the planet J586 into himself. Swamp Thing, by now an Earth Elemental with God-like powers and the ability to move through and inhabit any form of plant life in the universe, has been separated from his physical form after an attempt on his life. Without knowing that the vegetation on J586 is sentient, he attempts to form a new body from the planet’s plant life nearly killing a large number of the planet’s inhabitants in the process. The terrible

in Sovereignty and superheroes
Neal Curtis

power, but, as we have seen, it also takes the more specific forms of Swamp Thing’s ‘verdant grace’ and Animal Man’s immersion in the Template. For Bataille, to touch limitlessness invariably involves a brush with death because death alone, he writes, can reveal the ‘invisible brilliance of life that is not a thing’ (47; italics in original). The caveat, of course, is that this needs to be an encounter with death in which death is not the victor. What we desire, then, is not to die but through an encounter with death, to ‘bring into a world founded on discontinuity

in Sovereignty and superheroes